Press Release 2007-05 Phony Health Insurance Plan Ordered to Cease and Desist
Media Contact: Erin Klug Public Information Officer 602.364.3471
For Immediate Release October 12, 2007
PHOENIX – Insurance Director Christina Urias has ordered National Trade Business Alliance of America to immediately stop offering, soliciting, issuing or delivering health insurance to Arizona residents. This unlicensed entity may also have marketed products under the names: Affinity Health Plans of America, National Trade Business Association, NTBAA, National Transportation Benefit Alliance, Qualified Administrative Specialists of America, Family Health Care Services, Inc., America’s Best Benefits, and American Employers Association. The Texas, North Carolina and Pennsylvania insurance departments previously sanctioned some of these entities for similar unauthorized activity in their states.
This bogus health insurance plan sent an unsolicited fax to an Arizona small business and its employees. The faxed advertisement stated: “Attention Employees: Health care you can afford, $124 individual rate, $173 family rate...Expires Friday!” Typical of phony insurance solicitations, the fax did not contain any identification or business name, only a toll free phone number.
Watch for warning signs. If you didn’t request the information, if the prices sound too good to be true, if no health information is required, if the low price offer is only for a limited time, and-- most importantly--if the advertisement does not contain any verifiable insurance business information that you can trace back to a legitimate, state authorized insurance company, throw it away!
“Unfortunately, many small business owners are finding it increasingly difficult to afford health insurance for their employees, so solicitations for low-cost health plans are tempting,” said Insurance Director Christina Urias. “Sham health insurers don’t pay claims, so it’s important to do your homework before you buy to ensure you’re doing business with an authorized insurance company.”
“Don’t risk unpaid medical expenses,” says Urias. “Before you pay, stop and call the Arizona Department of Insurance to confirm that you’re doing business with a legitimate insurance company.”
Consumers, employers and agents can easily verify that insurers are authorized to do business in Arizona by calling the Arizona Department of Insurance at 602-364-2499 or 800-325-2548 (outside Phoenix).1
1 See attached consumer tips on avoiding phony insurance.
Ways to Avoid Being a Victim of Phony Insurance
The best protection is prevention! You wouldn’t choose a nursing home or hire a builder without doing some homework...the same applies to insurance!
• Verify before you buy! Check the validity of the insurance company and agent by contacting the Department of Insurance:
www.id.state.az.us or (602) 364-2499 or (800) 325-2548 outside Phoenix
(Check the exact insurance company name being used -- scam companies often use names similar to legitimate insurance companies).
- Fake insurance comes in all types: health, boat, medical malpractice, surety, business and professional liability, long term care. It is marketed to all types of people and businesses.
- Don’t let slick looking websites, business cards, “official” forms, and marketing materials persuade you that an insurance entity is legitimate.
- Review documentation carefully—make sure it looks “original”, not photocopied; look for a seal and authentic signatures.
- If the paperwork looks suspicious, contact the insurance company listed to verify that a policy was issued and call the Department of Insurance to verify licensure.
- Research the insurer: contact the BBB, the Corporation Commission, and the U.S. Department of Labor; get financial ratings from AM Best and other financial rating services; ask the Department of Insurance for complaint figures and financial information.
- Check out websites: Is there a physical address? Are there names of company officers? Are there valid phone numbers? Is there a way for you to contact the company besides email? Don’t settle for a P.O. Box, voice mail or email.
- Ask questions, keep notes about who you spoke to and when, keep copies of documents, and always pay with a check or credit card.
- Research “Discount” health plans and cards carefully. They are not insurance and typically not government regulated. “Discount” plans have been the subject of many nationwide fraud allegations.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”
Proceed cautiously if...